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The 2017 British Columbia Wine Awards Judges Profiles


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Gurvinder Bhatia left a career practising law to pursue his passion for wine and food. He is the wine editor for Quench (Canada’s most widely distributed wine and food publication), wine columnist for Global TV Edmonton, a wine and food consultant, international wine judge and the head wine buyer and Director of Wine, Business Development & Education for the UnWined wine boutique. Gurvinder was the owner of Vinomania wine boutique (opened in 1995) for over 20 years, named one of the 20 best wine stores in Canada by Wine Access magazine. In addition, Gurvinder was the wine columnist for CBC Radio for 11 years. Gurvinder is also the founder and director of Northern Lands, our country’s largest all-Canadian wine and culinary festival, and is certified by Vinitaly International Academy as one of only 7 Italian Wine Experts in the world.
 
In addition to possessing a law degree (JD) from Washington University in St. Louis, Gurvinder also earned his Masters Degree in Business Administration (MBA) with honours from Bradley University in Illinois. In 2015, Gurvinder was named by Alberta Venture Magazine as one of Alberta’s 50 Most Influential People. Gurvinder is frequently asked to speak on numerous wine and food related topics locally, nationally and internationally. He often speaks on the Alberta market and wine and food in the context of people, place, culture and history. Gurvinder coached NCAA and CIAU basketball including appearing in two NCAA Division III Tournaments and one Final Four as an assistant coach with the Washington University Bears. He is actively involved in the community and donates his time and resources to numerous charitable causes including as a past Board member of the Edmonton Community Foundation (still a member of the Endowment Development Committee) and as a member of the advisory committees of the Alberta Social Enterprise Venture Fund and the Edmonton Shift Lab which addresses eliminating racism as a critical piece of the puzzle in reaching the goal of ending poverty in a generation.

Amelia Jung has had a passion for wine for a number of years, and decided to undertake her training through the WSET program whilst studying at culinary school. The balance between food and wine is something that has always kept this passion alight. She is now undertaking the WSET diploma whilst working as an assistant manager at New District with her mentor DJ Kearney, where she spends her days sourcing new and exciting wines from around the world.

DJ Kearney is the Director of Wine at newdistrict.ca, an innovative online marketplace for B.C. and international wine. With the singular goal of simplifying the enjoyment of wine for British Columbians, she oversees wine selections and purchasing, and curates mixed packs of wine and knowledge at newdistrict.ca. In almost two decades in the wine business, DJ has trained over a thousand sommeliers throughout North America, judged and presented around the world, and tasted thousands of wines in pursuit of quality and value. She has been the Drink Editor for Vancouver Magazine, the Chief Judge for several wine competitions, initiated a Judge Mentorship program in Canada, and contributes to WineAlign.ca.  DJ has a special devotion to wines of her home province, and frequently speaks, writes and teaches about the winelands of British Columbia. She is also a classically trained cook, an ardent locavore, avid online shopper, and sports fanatic.

David Lawrason has an extensive 30-year career as a wine writer and educator based in Toronto, David has had a front row seat for the development of Canadian wine, writing and reviewing in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Life, Wine Access magazine and now WineAlign, a website based in Ontario, Quebec and BC. He is co-founder and a head judge of the National Wine Awards. In 2013 David became a WSET instructor for Fine Vintage Ltd and he has recently helped develop a new Canadian Wine Scholar program with Fine Vintage Ltd. He is also National Wine Advisor for an Olympic fund raising program called Gold Medal Plates that showcases Canadian wines in ten cities across the country each year, as well as at the Canadian Culinary Championships in Kelowna.

Tim Pawsey, (a.k.a. The Hired Belly) writes and shoots at hiredbelly.com as well as for the North Shore News, WHERE Vancouver, Quench, BCLS Taste, Montecristo magazines and others. He’s an original judge for The BC Lieutenant Governor’s Awards for Excellence in Wine, has judged many years at the BC Wine Awards, and is a founding member of the British Columbia Hospitality Industry Foundation.


Rhys Pender is a Similkameen Valley based Master of Wine who writes, consults and judges about wine under Wine Plus+ and is the co-owner of Little Farm Winery.


Brad Royale is the Wine Director for Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts (CRMR) where he oversees 7 beautiful properties throughout Alberta and British Columbia.  Royale is in charge of purchasing, menu design and staff training for CRMR’s boutique restaurants and lodges.  Royale has been involved in retail and restaurant management for eighteen years and holds credentials from both the ISG sommelier program as well as the WSET Diploma program. Known for his discerning tasting skills, Royale has been involved in professional wine judging for the past 10 years, being retained by Wine Access, Culinaire Magazine and WineAlign.com.  Royale travels frequently to meet new producers and explore new wines. His travels take him all over the world including regions in Italy, France, Spain, Morocco, Austria, Germany, United States, Chile, Australia, Portugal, Argentina, Australia and Japan.  In his role at CRMR, Royale has won multiple awards for his extensive wine programs from Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, World of Fine Wine (Three Stars) and The Vancouver Wine Festival.  In 2012 Brad launched his own wine label, Kitten Swish… www.kittenswish.com …it’s delicious.
 

Mark Shipway grew up on England’s south coast where his interest for wine arose at an early age on the regular family holidays to France. A wine enthusiast for many years, it was after living and traveling in New Zealand that he finally decided to convert this passion into a serious vocation.

Mark returned to his native home and to full-time study at the University of Brighton - the UK’s only school for viticulture and oenology. During this time, he cut his teeth in the retail trade, working part-time for a local specialist wine merchant St Martin Vintners where he was introduced to the fine wine trade.

After graduation, the opportunity to travel arose once more taking Mark to the winelands of South Africa’s Western Cape. Living in the picturesque town of Stellenbosch and working as a wine steward and cellar guide for various wine farms gave him a lasting love for South African wine and culture.

Mark’s wine education continued and he achieved the WSET Diploma with Distinction in 1999 and was awarded one of the very few industry scholarships available to Diploma graduates. As part of this award, Mark served internship in the wine buying department of leading supermarket Waitrose Ltd where he worked alongside some of the UK’s most respected Masters of Wine.

On completion of his internship Mark made a move to the country and into the head office of influential retailer Direct Wines. Here he continued to pursue the business side of wine, working as both a wine consultant and in the sales & marketing department. His belief in the positive benefits of a formal wine education saw him entering the field of wine instruction, teaching WSET courses to work colleagues and running Diploma tutorials in his spare time.

Mark moved to Canada in 2004 and for the last 12 years has worked as the program coordinator and instructor of both the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) and French Wine Scholar programs at The Art Institute of Vancouver. He has been a regular contributor to both Vendor and The Publican magazines and a judge for both the International Wine and Spirit Competition and the Vancouver Magazine Wine Awards. He is member of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers and was recently passed the Court of Master Sommeliers Advanced Sommelier exam, one step before the coveted Master Sommelier designation..


Alistair Veen's first job involved cooking at a restaurant in Langley at the tender age of 15.  A few years later, he used his culinary skills to help pay his way through university.  When he found academic life unsatisfying, he embarked on a six-year tour of duty through corporate kitchens.  By the end of this time he had established that he loved cooking, but knew that he wanted more control over where he wielded his chef’s knife.  To this end he ran his own restaurant, Karv, in Kitsilano.  He also formalized his culinary training, earning the top spot in his Red Seal Chef class.  In 2006 he opened Tap Restaurant, offering outstanding Pacific Northwest cuisine in an accessible South Surrey location.

Veen is not only the owner and Executive Chef at Tap, he also serves as the restaurant’s Sommelier.  In 2015 his exceptional wine knowledge led to him being named Best Sommelier of BC by the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers, BC Chapter.  His rise to the top of the formidable local competition is all the more remarkable because Veen became interested in wine only about ten years ago.  At that time he enrolled in an International Sommelier Guild course (ISG1) with his then-girlfriend, who is now his wife and the mother of his son and daughter.  After completing ISG1 and 2, Veen transferred to the WSET program.  He  furthered his education by completing the first Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS)  course (earning the Champagne award along the way) and successfully challenging the certified exam the following day. 

Veen has since earned distinction in the French Wine Scholar program and became one of the 5% of candidates to pass the Court of Master Sommeliers Advanced certification on his first try. He plans to write the Master Sommelier certification as soon as he is eligible and has hopes to challenge the CCC culinary program as well. In the meantime, however, he has plenty on his plate at Tap, including discovering exceptional wines from regions around the world and developing cuisine that pairs divinely with his cellar selections.


Paul Zitarelli, Owner and Editor-in-Chief of Seattle-based retailer Full Pull Wines, is a Harvard-trained applied-mathematician who gave all that up (well, mostly; it still comes in handy for counting bottles) for a wine-soaked flight of fancy. In 2009, he graduated from the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington and converted the readership of his burgeoning wine blog into the initial list members for Full Pull Wines. Zitarelli is now the lead wine writer for Seattle Magazine, and he is well along the path towards becoming a Master of Wine, having achieved the WSET Level 4 Diploma (DipWSET) in 2015. Outside of work, he spends most of his time chasing around his 3-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son, obsessing over Seattle Sounders FC, and throwing something delicious into a sizzling pan.

 

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British Columbia Wine Awards

British Columbia's oldest and most prestigious wine judging competition that recognizes excellence in winemaking for all British Columbia wineries.


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